Onkyo DV-CP802 Six-Disc Changer

Because more is better.

The only thing better than an inexpensive player that will play virtually any disc you ask it to is an inexpensive player that will play virtually any six discs you ask it to. With the DV-CP802, Onkyo has lowered the price bar and upped the ante in the category of disc changers, including some nice higher-end perks in an entry-level machine.

Fine Features
The DV-CP802 is first and foremost an audio player, as evidenced by its features list and advanced setup functions. Of course, if you just want to do a basic setup, Onkyo makes it simple. When you first power on the unit, an Initial Setup menu appears onscreen and prompts you to select TV shape, onscreen language, and the type of analog audio output (alas, an all-digital high-resolution connection is too much to ask in this price range): two-channel or multichannel. If you select multichannel, you're taken to a menu that lets you select speaker size for the front, center, and surround speakers. That's it. You're done.

Or are you? There are a lot of other audio settings (clearly detailed in the manual) that you can tweak if you like or ignore if you like, as the defaults are fine for a basic A/V setup. If nothing else, you should at least finish the job when it comes to bass management. In addition to speaker size, the DV-CP802 lets you set speaker distance and provides test tones that you can scroll through at your leisure to match levels. You won't find any annoying automatic tone sequence that gives you all of two seconds to try to match levels. This may not mean much after initial setup, but it's a sign of quality and a desire to help you get the best audio reproduction you can.

The disc carousel was much quieter than the one in my home system. Quicker, too; it took about 10 seconds to change and cue up discs. You can open the tray and exchange discs without interrupting playback of the disc in use, and the chain mode allows for continuous playback from disc to disc. You can set this mode to scroll through CDs, DVDs, or all disc types. When set for the latter, the DV-CP802 had no trouble switching from CD to MP3 to SACD to DVD-Audio, reading the correct format each time. However, if a DVD-Audio isn't designed to begin playback immediately, you'll get held up at the onscreen menu at the start, and it will take you back to the menu when the music is done, preventing you from automatically scrolling to the next disc. The same is true for MP3 and DVD-Video menus. The MP3/JPEG menu is fairly easy to maneuver, although the player is very slow to draw JPEGs on the screen.

Audio lovers will also appreciate the video-bypass switch on the front panel that lets you turn off the internal video circuitry when you're listening to music. Also, if you have a 7.1-channel A/V receiver, there's an extra set of analog audio outputs for the rear channels.

Get Out of the Way
I auditioned the DV-CP802 with gear that's a bit out of its price league: a Pioneer VSX-55TXi receiver and RGB MC Series tower speaker system at home; a Harman/Kardon AVR 630 receiver and Def Tech Mythos speaker system at our listening facility. Both are great combinations, and I knew that any hit I noticed in audio performance would be the Onkyo's doing.

Truth be told, I didn't detect any hit through the digital or analog outs. Obviously, a $499 player isn't going to reveal all of the nuances and be as pristine as one that costs thousands of dollars, but I never felt as if the DV-CP802 was robbing me of any performance as I listened to DVD-Videos and CDs through the digital optical out and DVD-Audio and SACD tracks through the analog outs. In fact, I was able to discern the subtle differences between the SACD and DVD-Audio versions of Bucky Pizzarelli's Swing Live; the SACD is tighter and more tuneful, while the DVD-Audio has more openness and ambience. There was a hint of dullness at the highest end of the audio spectrum in Lang Lang's Rachmaninoff SACD, but overall I felt that the player, in conjunction with the audio systems I used, did a good job of bringing the piano to life. It didn't step on any of the other devices' sonic toes, which is all you can ask for.

How Does It Look?
You can turn on progressive scanning via a button on the remote. When I ran the DV-CP802 through the Video Essentials test patterns, its progressive resolution measured only about 450 lines per picture height. The Avia Pro DVD indicated that the player's resolution is 3 decibels down at about 4 megahertz and 6 dB down at 5 MHz. In the 6.75-MHz circle, which shows clean, clearly delineated lines when a player can reproduce fine details, there was noticeable banding and little delineation between lines. The player's interlaced output was better, showing only slight roll-off at the highest frequencies.

Test patterns are just that, though. Tests. With real-world material, I was generally satisfied with the DV-CP802's progressive performance. While its processor had trouble with the film sequence in the Snell & Wilcox Zone Plate test on the VE disc, the Gladiator and Armageddon sequences we use to test film processing looked better than average. Blacks and colors looked good, and the player lets you tweak the picture to your environment more than any other entry-level player I've seen: It has three memory settings for both the interlaced and progressive modes in which you can set the contrast, color, brightness, etc., to suit different viewing circumstances (i.e., daytime versus nighttime, type of material).

I was impressed with the Onkyo's overall package, but its audio performance and features earn it that higher price tag. Sure, the single-disc, "push a few buttons and forget it" players are great for most people, but the DV-CP802, with all of its features and tweaks, is ideal for the blossoming home theater fan or, especially, the aspiring audiophile who wants to taste all of the available formats and have more control over how they're seasoned.

• The six-disc carousel is quick and quiet—and, oh yeah, it'll play just about any disc you feed it
• Lots of higher-end tweaks

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